2022 IHA USA + Mexico Seminar Tour

On the Road Again!

It has been sometime since I looked at my bags and went through the process of loading them up for a Seminar Tour. Something I did with so little effort is now taking a moments planning. After all it will be over 3 years since I have been to visit with the IHA family in North America. Still the bags get packed, and I get ready to saddle up for my first flights this trip. I used some hard-earned Air NZ frequent flyer points for this trip and actually booked the tickets in December last year. The flights I paid around $6k in Points Value, (Air NZ points are 1 point = 1$) for are selling today for $15k, jeez, moments pause, maybe I should just sell my ticket.

Still it was only a moments pause, and this trip starts with 3 flights, Air New Zealand from Sydney to Los Angeles via Auckland and then a change over onto United for the LA to Houston flight. Firstly it was a smooth ride to the airport, thank you BSBN Brett, and there was no waiting to check in at Air NZ, the only Covid change was to sign a attestation form for the US stating I was Vaccinated. Straight through security and though there feels like there is quite a lot of people here everything is moving quickly. The first sign of Covid is the number of shops that are still closed or showing coming soon signage. There was one huge difference though, everyone seemed to be happy to be at the airport, unlike pre Covid and the typical stressed out grumpy traveler. I hope that stays true as I journey on, happy airports…

I am going to add some Travel Notes with the report, sharing some of the tools of the Road Warrior trade, they might come in handy for those that travel often, or indeed for those who want to make their travels a little easier.

So the flight across the ditch (Australia to New Zealand) went smoothly, excellent service from Air New Zealand as normal. I had a couple of hours in Auckland so off to the lounge to chill, before the wheels fell off. I get to the gate for my US flight and its delayed based on a later arrival, which becomes an engineering issue, which then turns into a we need to swap planes problem. That changes the 8:15pm flight to something closer to 11 which means its time to check my onward United flight and change that as well. Everyone is picking on the Australian airlines for having issues, but in reality it is a world wide issue, a lack of staff for planes and airports means less planes in the air, and when issues occur less ability to deal with it. So back to the lounge to chill some more.

Travel Note #1. For those that wear belts, get a carbon fibre belt buckle, my preference is Grip 6. I have worn this belt through countless X-ray, Body Scan and so many variations of machines without an issue. Adding the ease of never having to remove your belt saves so much time and effort.

So they eventually repair what was a leaking valve in the engine that was stopping the pilot turning it off, hmmm, that definitely sounds like something I would want fixed. We then board just over 3 hours late and get underway, 12 hours in the air to the USA. The flight was uneventful afterwards, decent service, some sleep that is at best described as time passing rather than replenishing. Touchdown Los Angeles, and there have been some changes, the walk from the plane to immigration was well over a kilometre (Half Mile), at least no queue and after the ‘interview’ I was able to enter the US, grab my bags and take the walk to get my United flight. Just as the United flight was airborne I realised I had been on the go for well over 24 hours, so from leaving home to arriving to the first hotel the overall time was going to over 30 hours, that’s a travel day, well plus. Little was I to know about the car rental fiasco to come.

You see a Mini and think all is well. Let me take you on the journey to get that mini, so I booked a car almost a year ago and the rates were impressively cheap, so I got a bargain on a Dodge Challenger. I arrived into Houston airport just before Midnight and managed to get to the car rental before it closed at Midnight to be told, no US Credit Card no ‘Sports Car’, apparently now they do a credit check to rent certain vehicles, and with an Aussie card they wouldn’t allow it. So she offered a replacement vehicle, sounds find, expect the price almost doubled. Even in my travel addled brain I thought I am not paying that and told her politely no thanks. Upon trying the other car rentals that were open I found out they were out of cars, except one had tesla’s for $150US ($239AU) per day. Yeah, nah, so I head off to get an Uber to my hotel except there are none. A helpful shuttle bus driver suggests I get a ride to the airport and try from there, that works, and I am in the hotel by 2am…

I am up in the morn and after some calls, book and pay for a car through Budget with a sort of close location, an Uber later I am there and then told um nope, can’t hire you a car without a physical credit card to insert in the machine, what? Mine are all in my Google wallet, except a US Debit Card, which they wont take. So cancel that booking, and I walk a couple of kilometres to the Enterprise that I know accepts Debit and that I have used before, they have cars….. Yeah nope, the rules changed and they need a physical Credit Card now, except for at Airports, A moments pause while I yell internally, he helps out by ringing the Enterprise at the airport and they tell him they have no cars, they have 1400 bookings and 1000 cars coming in, argh. I call back Budget to confirm that I can use a US Debit card at the airport location and that they have a normal car, yes and yes. Uber back out to airport to see there is a line with over 100 people there, so while I am in line I call Budget to confirm my booking as I noticed the payment hadn’t gone through. Ahh its missing, so the helpful guy makes me another one, and an hour later at the desk they say……. No Debit card, and must be a physical car not on phone… About now the US trip is off to a [                ] start, you fill in the blanks.

They recommend another rental company that 100% accepts Debit, and there they have no cars, Hertz, Nope, Avis, Nope, Budget Nope, etc. I see that almost every place now has no Queues except Enterprise, so I get online and see if I might be able to actually sneakily book one, tick, car booked, I am in the Queue, 30 minutes later I am off to get a full size sedan, yeah, nah, they are out and apparently it was an upgrade into the Mini, about now who cares, give me the key, I am hitting the road… So what happened, well the World Series is on this weekend in Houston, who could have planned that a year ago, and there are no cars to rent, added to the Credit Card issue. So new pro tip, make sure to have a physical CC on you if you are like me and only use your phone at home.

So, car on the road, I took the chance to hit the outlets. Typically, US pricing on clothing is a less than Australia, it is the economy of scale, however sales at outlets can make it ridiculous. For example, the polo’s I bought here for $19US ($34AU), those are on special sale in Australia for over double, normally 3-4x more. Taking the pricing into account, even with a less than favourable exchange rate I took advantage of being close to some outlets, throw in some visits to TJ Maxx, Ross and Marshalls (places that have even better sales on overstock and end of season brand names) and I was stocked up for a year. Apart from some shopping, I grabbed some nice meals and of course worked on the Video signatures for those grading this trip, one day everyone will get them done early and I won’t know what to do with my spare time.

A side note, it is a small world indeed. I was chatting with one of the Uber drivers during the car hire issues, and it turned out he was a Cuban who had travelled to a number of countries, upon talking the reason was due to his Judo competitions. Once he knew I did Hapkido he went on to talk about his good friend who did Hapkido in Mexico, who I had met at a DJN’s event in Korea. So, the story goes like this, an Australian in America talks to a Cuban who knows a Mexican that met the Australian in Korea, jeez it almost sounds like the set up for a Joke. But really, how small is the world getting?

An interesting Tattoo shop in downtown Houston, it would make a nice Dojang.

Well, the Houston Astros won the World Series, I must have been good luck. Time to wrap up my brief break and get back on the road for some Hapkido. A smooth drive out to the car rental, before the shuttle to the airport and my next flight with United, this time from Houston into Charlotte, North Carolina. The home of the 2023 ITS event!

Travel Note #2. Another must have item in my travel arsenal is my Bellroy passport wallet. T fits in a normal jeans pocket, has space for my passport, a small pen, is big enough for boarding passes, and a number of cards. Everything you need to get around the world tucked away in one place. Of course I also recommend you taking paper copies of each item in your wallet separately in case it is ever lost, much easier to replace a passport and/or cards if you have pictures.

Now they have self-serve kiosks at airports, grab what overpriced items you want, scan and pay without having to talk to anyone.

Ma’am Stephanie’s Hapkido Mobile!

Welcome to Denver, North Carolina.

It was good to catch up with KSN Stephanie and Ben (Provisional testing for Black Belt this trip in Minnesota), even if it ended up around 2am the first night. Both are not only members of the IHA but also Masters of Tang Soo Do and Purple Belts in BJJ. It was looking like a busy trip with mornings open for some training with them as well as some ITS scouting around. The afternoons included time on the mats with different groups, including the Ankle biters, Knee Huggers and Teens, wrapping up with Hell Week sessions working on syllabus.

One of the many Adult Groups

Over the week I got to cover the adults curriculum, an open self defence seminar, and for the wee folk, Staff (that was interesting 30 – 5 year old’s swinging sticks), Bully defence, Bag Fu and Falling. In the spare time an adults grading for 4 of the local students, and we locked in the official hotel for the ITS!

Open Self Defence Seminar

I survived, um I meant one of the kids groups

Sensing a Theme here?

Home of ITS #10

The infamous Australian Art Competition

The Blue Ringed Octopus takes out the prize

A most honourable mention for the scene under the sea

The Theme continues

But wait there is more!

Oh, ok, one last one.

It was an excellent week, lots of students working hard, some excellent meals including the team dinner at Chima and some long walks at night. Well, I have committed myself to a daily step count so each night I was dragging Ma’am Stephanie or Sir Ben along for company. Of course, that included the “night of wet death” when it started raining torrentially the second we left and stopped the second we returned. Talk about a pair of Drowned Rats. For those at home, it is Autumn moving into Winter, so some chilly steps were part of the challenge. Did I see the word challenge? As normal I have been challenged to complete a task during my travels and this time it is a Pain Face from each Dojang. So unto our guest pain facer from IHA Denver, NC.

Pain Face #1 – Welcome to the club Rigo

With the ITS plans shaping up well, expect early bird registrations to open an day, it was time to bid farewell to Team Denver and hit the road towards the state for Lovers, Virginia.

Indeed – Lovers of Hapkido maybe?

On the road for this leg from Denver, NC to Yorktown, VA

KSN Stephanie offered to drive down to Yorktown so we hit the road in the Dojang F150 for a comfortable cruise of just under 6 hours. A brief stop at my hotel to drop off the luggage then over to BSBN Brian’s house for a home cooked meal. Of course, we need to maximise the time on the ground, so after dinner we headed to the Dojang for a 30min seminar on Angry White Belt and a chat the local Black Belts on the plans.

Enjoying a walk

Training started early the next day and BSBN Brian had a full schedule in mind for my visit, adding in my steps and a few meals to make sure every moment I was kept busy. It was good though to enjoy some walking through the local parks and BSBN knew many of the better trails.

Enjoying more walking

To give you an idea of the schedule in mind, I am posting up a screenshot of one of my travel apps, more information in that in the next Travel note below.

A day on the road – TripIt Screenshot

Travel Note #3. Apps, apps and more apps are all an important part of the Travel Warrior arsenal. Of course, there are many standard ones for international warriors, XE for currency, Google Translate, for those who like Fine Dining – Laliste is a must. You should also have any of the apps for the airlines you are flying this is a basic need. Beyond that I have one I heartily recommend and use the most, TripIt. IT allows me to keep track of not only my flights, but all transportation, meetings, hotels, meals and more. If you pay for the Pro version you get live updates on your flights, gate changes, luggage, etc.

Each morning I got to spend time on the mats with BSBN Brian as well as a group of his seniors working on different concepts as well as preparation work for testing in Minnesota. Mary was aiming for her Spirit test and KSN Ashton was preparing for 3rd Degree along with KSN Stephanie. Several of the other local Red and Provisional Black Belts dropped in to be crash dummies. A lot of people would wonder why they volunteered so much time and effort, well to be honest you learn as well. They were able to be on the mats when I was covering senior concepts and techniques and I am sure picked up some Gems along the way. KSN Ashton was excited about a new Fast-Food restaurant opening nearby so for lunch one day we joined the throng of people queued up for the opening. The restaurant specialises in Chicken fingers, only really selling those, fries and Texas Toast, since it was called Raising Cane, both KSN’s brought theirs. We did then find out it the name was from one of the owners pet hound.

Raising Cane, sort of

So, each day it was onto the mats for seniors in the morning, and then onto mixed classes, seminars and Hell Week sessions each evening. Ma’am Mary made sure that the team had snacks for the brief breaks during sessions, and had also provided me with a care package for my stay, some vegemite, nuts, trail mix as well as a ruby duck (longer story), and some Dinosaur Black Belt socks, expect those to make an appearance sometime later in the trip report.

Seminar Snacks

Some of the local students joining the Training

During the week I had the chance to officially present CGN Juan with his official IHA Dobok, Black Belt and Certificate. Congratulations sir, I look forward to working with you on your continuing journey on the Hapkido path.

Congratulations CGN Juan

One of the highlights from the week was when Moriah on the local Orange Belt students (who is blind) not only spent the week on the mats working hard with everyone else but also broke wood during the breaking session, incredible. So many students struggle to find motivation to train, but Ma’am Moriah showed how to overcome adversity and still follow the Hapkido path, you have my respect. It was a filled week with many mat hours, lots of sweat and laughs as the local students worked hard. To wrap up the week BSBN Brian set up a team visit to Busch Gardens (A local Amusement Park) which was featuring a Christmas Theme.

Busch Gardens 1

Busch Gardens 2

Busch Gardens 3

More Hapkido on the Road

Pain Face #2 – BSBN Brian gets his membership card

An early morning trip to the airport and I am boarded for Guadalajara via Houston. The transit is 43 minutes (United booked this transfer) and according to one of my travel apps, it takes on average 22 mins to do the walk/sky train. No stress at all, should be easy, the only hiccups occur with bags making it. The arrival was slightly delayed and  I am off and running, I keep an eye on the boarding indicator as well as my Samsung Bag tag to see if my bag is moving. I literally arrive and walk straight on the plane, and watch as the Bag Tag slowly makes it way across the airport to the plane. Ok, all is together and we are off.

Yorktown – Houston – Guadalajara

I win the customs lottery (if you come to GDL you will understand) and notice no usual form to enter, just one for Customs. KJN Hugo is on hand to pick me up and we hit the road to my hotel for the next 9 days.

The Riu is a true 5 star hotel and the tallest building in Guadalajara (GDL), and even better I booked it including breakfast for less than a standard Chain hotel in the USA. A small travel hack, even if flying solo book for 2 so you get an extra breakfast, KJN Hugo would drop in each morning to make good use of the hotel’s impressive Buffet.

Just outside the RIU Hotel

So the plans are for a different seminar each day, visiting 3 of the local Dojangs, throw in a Sun Bae (Senior Training), Senior Black Belt test, Black Belt Spirit Test, Police Training and a Kodanja class(4th Degree plus). Just to make sure I don’t get board this visit, of course wrap the events in lots of excellent local dining, good company and many trips to one of the ok local coffee shops. If I had to rate them, La Borra, Black Gallery then Starbucks.

An old school Hapkidoist with their Cane

First seminar off the rank was Bag Fu with the local kids at MHA Ki Won, followed by some junior belt revision for the adults, I decided to throw in some Angry White Belt as well as the Lock/Striking concept to sweeten the deal, of course a pain face as well.

MHA Ki Won Dojang

Survived the Ki Won Kids, the picture sums it up

Ki Won Adults Seminar

Pain Face #3 – CGN Erika joins the Hall of Fame

I had done some culinary research before this trip and sent off a list of possible restaurants on my interested list. It seems KJN Hugo took it as a challenge and went ahead and managed to book them all over the visit. Even funnier was that the first one on the list was managed by the father of one of his Black Belts, well French for lunch it is.

Pate, Cheese and KJN went Snails, so Parisian

Flambe anyone?

Next up was the Police seminar, and KJN Hugo did let some other students sneak in. Slam and Jam was the order of the day, with some Ground locking to keep them Jammed. Add a pain face and you have a rather good day on the road.

Police Seminar @ Ki Dae Hapkido

Pain Face #4 – KSN Aldo went old school

Even a Mexican Hotel surrounded to some Thanksgiving

Literal translations are always worth a chuckle (it means Cheese wrapped Ham)

Next up a visit to Tlaquepaque and KJN Ernesto’s Dojang the MHA. A stop on the way though to get a good lunch and coffee whilst enjoying part of the tourist section of GDL.

Very Vibrant Tlaquepaque

MHA Dojang

MHA Seminar Group

Pain Face #5 – BSBN Johnathan drops in from Cancun and drops out in pain

Smart Car Parks all over GDL

Time to return to KJN Hugo’s Dojang – Ki Dae for the evening. I also had the pleasure of presenting some Black Belt certificates and Doboks for the team that graded earlier in the year. Team USA with Ma’am Stephanie and Sir Ben had joined the south of border fun flying in today from North Carolina. Apparently they won the Customs lottery but still got searched, oh well, it sometime works. For those still stumped, when you go to clear customs here you push a button and it either lights up Red (X Ray machine) or Green (Pass Go). Never the less they made it and joined us on the mats for the seminar, then joined KJN Hugo and I for a Brazilian meat fest afterwards.

Sparkling new Black Belt Doboks

Ki Dae Seminar

I found my Signatures Sign

Next up was a return visit to the MHA Dojang for the Sun Bae session, open to all Red Belts and above. On the list was Dan Bong, Cane, and Flex Weapon techniques along with some Weapon Multiple Grabs. That was followed by the Senior Black Belt testing, CGN Citlalli for 2nd, BSBN’s Selene and Ernesto Jnr for 4th and KJN Ernesto for 7th. A sleepless night for them I am sure as the results will be given the next day at the presentation lunch.

Sun Bae Group

After the busy day it was time to enjoy some fine dining this time with KJN Hugo, BSBN Selene, BSBN Stephanie and Sir Ben. It was a very pleasant meal in a art gallery that was repurposed from a row of houses.


Desert – Black Truffle Ice Cream

The morning View from my room

Daylight View

An Apt Name for a local Car

The next morning it was back on the mats at MHA for the Spirit Test, on deck were 3 candidates. On this occasion we welcomed 1 new 1st Degree into the family and will be working with the other 2 to make sure they are ready in future.

Welcome CGN Edwin

Kiwi wrapped Sushi with Cheese as well, that’s just a NO.

After the testing there was time for a local Representative meeting, focusing on steps to improve our Hapkido here in Mexico, some new systems to be implemented and the excitement of a good group coming to the ITS next year. The it was time to head out for a celebration/commiseration lunch as well as a chance to give out any promotions from the previous days testing. Congratulations to our new 2nd Degree KSN Citlalli, 2 new SBN’s Selene and Ernesto Jnr, then it was time for the big news and only the 2nd time I have promoted someone to 7th Degree, congratulations KJN Ernesto!

KJN Ernesto – KSN Citlalli – SBN Selene – SBN Ernesto Jnr

With those promotions it is clear that Team Mexico has some powerhouse families on the mats with KJN Ernesto’s family being (7th, 5th and a 4th Degree) and KJN Hugo’s family (6th, 4th, 2nd and 1st Degree). I talk about the IHA family, but here it is taken literally. That evening we took Team USA out for some legit street taco’s at KJN Hugo’s favourite Taco stand. It is hard to describe the difference between tacos here and outside Mexico, but never the less I love them hear and don’t like them elsewhere.

Taco Wizards at Work.

The last day on the mats was for the Kodanja (4th Degree+) and we covered the new 4th Degree Black Belt requirements with a focus on the knife techniques, also some Multiples grabs with knife and a brief exposure to the first 5th Degree Sword form.

SBN Selene and SBN Ernesto with their Jackets and Certificates

7th Degree #2 KJN Ernesto with his Jacket and Certificate

Local Kodanja – Now that is some Bench strength

A brief wave goodbye to KJN Hugo’s dojang

To wrap up another excellent visit to GDL I took my local family out for a very nice Steak Dinner, apparently this restaurant was voted #54 best steakhouse in the world this year, regardless it was an great meal with my Mexican familia.


Brick Steakhouse, looks amazing and the food is as well

Mexican Familia

A relatively quick drive out to Guadalajara airport for the just over 1-hour flight into Mexico City for a break in the travels. Expect some food pictures as I have a host of dining lined up.

Guadalajara – Mexico City

Travel Note #4. Power. Always carry an old plastic hotel card or similar. Many hotels require one for the room power and having a spare always helps. Many rooms turn off the socket power as well without that card, so while you are out, the laptop, etc. isn’t charging. For international travel, spend a moment researching the power adaptor you will need. A good multi adaptor is a investment, but also take into account how many devices you want to charge, one adapter might not be enough.

Hola Mexico City

An easy flight into Mexico City, and after collecting my bags I checked out the Taxi offerings. One good thing is you pay at the Taxi booth, and they call up the taxi so less scamming is on offer. The ride was smooth, and the traffic wasn’t bad, more on that to come. I was pleasantly surprised with my hotel, it was part of an incredibly cheap Expedia package, 5 nights (4*) and a First-Class flight for just on $400. Sometimes the packages are well worth a peak. Beyond that the hotel offered something I had never come across before, free food 24 hours a day from a small café up front. I was upgraded to a larger very spacious room due to my Expedia Status, and there was a personal note to welcome me, this hotel ticks a lot of boxes. Over my stay I found all the staff helpful, the breakfast choice decent, the café a bonus (mainly coffee, but for those beer drinkers it was free too). So if you are ever going to visit Mexico City give the Hotel Historico a look, it also sits within walking distance of all the major city sites.

Hotel Historico

Comfortable Room

Nice Welcome

All Free 24/7

So why Mexico you ask well it turns out 5 of the top 100 restaurants in the world are located here and with some skill and planning I had booked them all. Beyond that it was also a good deal as most were priced lower due to being in Mexico. Over the break I tried Pujol #5, Quintonil #9, Sud #52, Rosetta #60 and Maximo #89. The only draw back was how horrific the traffic can be, most restaurants were in the 5-9km distance from the hotel and Uber on every occasion took at least 30mins, in one case 90mins. Actually on 2 of the trips, I gave the driver a wave and walked back, it was quicker. I did wander the streets and enjoy the history, but in general I was here for the food coma.

Wandering the Zocalo

Food #1

Food #2

Palace of Fine Arts

Food #3

Food #4

The lost tribe of the Mayan Tourist Hunters

I do have to admit that tracking down some postcards took some hours, they seem to be a dying breed in many places now. Still, I did finally get some and can report they are in the post, it is anyone’s guess on when they make it home though. The hotel arranged a smooth transfer to the airport, and I am back into the friendly skies, this time with American Airlines as part of my switch from Star Alliance to One World. I have 90 minutes to clear US immigrations and make my connecting flight to Minneapolis, in Road Warrior speak that is an eternity.

Mexico City – Dallas – Minneapolis

Well in fact it turned out to be quite close, clearing customs which was surprisingly quick for a US entry then collecting my bags, re-checking them, changing terminals, hitting the Queue to redo security meant I basically walked on last to my Minnesota bound flight. Still it worked and I was off into the frozen north to meet up with KJN Corey and a good steak dinner to catch up before the drive to Hutchinson.

Queues R Us

The next day it was time to also catch up with Master Dave and to visit his brand new Dojang, it looks ready for some excellent Hapkido classes. I also had the chance to spend some time on the mats with him and KJN Corey covering the 4th Degree Knife Techniques and a chunk of the 5th Degree Sword material. After the training we headed back to KJN Corey’s Dojang for a class on Bag Fu with his kids group.

Complete Self Defence Buffalo, MN

CSD Hutch Kids Group

Typically when I visit with KJN Corey one of the dinners is a home cooked Barbeque or similar, this visit it was to be a highlight. I had found a supplier in the US of a very rare type of meat that is imported directly from Japan, not only is it A5 Wagyu grade but specifically Olive Wagyu. The meat was shipped to KJN Corey specially frozen, and even came with certificates of authenticity. Due to its incredible richness we managed to make 2 evenings meals from it, hmmm this sounds like a Annual event to me.

View post on imgur.com

Olive Wagyu

Oh, I must have forgotten to mention its cold up here in the Tundra North. The temperature did range and hovered around 0 to -5 most days, quite fine actually, except for the odd -17 with some wind and moisture. I know the Finns and Vikings laugh but to an Aussie that’s a wee bit chilly. Still beautiful to see some of the snow capped fields and surrounds.

The view from KJN Corey’s front door.

Onto the training and the first full day was the Sun Bae (Senior Students Red Belt +) followed by the Senior Black Belt test, on deck were CGN Justin for 2nd, KSN Ashton and Stephanie for 3rd Degree and BSBN Sherri for 4th Degree. The testing went smoothly, so much easier than zoom, and the Black Belts will get their results the following Sunday during the final seminar sessions.

Sun Bae Group

Wal Mart Wanderings #1

Wal Mart Wanderings #2

The next morning was an early one and a chance to enjoy the sun rise as we headed to a specialised law enforcement training centre shared by the FBI, Sheriffs and Correctional officers. KJN Corey has been running regular training for the Correctional Officers and I was asked to step in as a guest teacher for this session. It was a nice facility and the group seemed to enjoy the training, one of the local FBI Tactical officers like it enough to offer us some time on the shooting range, how can you say no to that.

On the morning road

Correctional Officers seminar

Shooting time

A touch of Finland

After the training it was back to KJN Corey’s Dojang for another round of Hell Week, by this stage most of the visiting teams from the other US dojangs had arrived with BSBN Brian + Team Yorktown, KSN Stephanie + Team Denver and Master Dave representing Team Buffalo. During the evening I was also happy to present CGN Sam and CGN Marc with their official IHA Black Belt Certificate, Doboks and Belts.

Congrats on your new Doboks, Belts and Certificates

Almost like a Finnish Sauna

Hell Week Team

The next day was another day on the mats with Hell Week, and I then had the chance to recognize KSN Kris on earning her promotion to Senior Instructor. The evening continued with a USA Representative meeting over some Sushi with a discussion about Black Belt testing next year, along with the ITS plans. There are lots of exciting events and plans coming for Team USA over the next couple of years. On the somewhat late drive home I got the chance to enjoy some of the local wildlife, even if the Vampire Deer did seem to be giving us the stare down.

Congrats KSN Kris

Battleship Sushi Style

Vampire Deer

Day 3 of the Hell week on the mats, and in a break before the evenings Spirit test we took the chance to walk on water, well to stroll across the nearby river that had frozen over in the cooler weather. Even though it was downtown, there was already one ice fishing hut set up and a enterprising local hard at work. Back into the warmth of the Dojang, where the heat was truly turned up for the evenings Spirit testing, 2 candidates on the mats with Ben from Denver and Mary from Yorktown. We were proud to welcome 2 new 1st Degree Black Belts into the IHA family.

Hell Week Team

Ice Walkers

Congratulations CGN Ben and CGN Mary

A final day on the mats and a chance to welcome our 2 new Black Belts, as well as reveal the senior promotions. Congratulations KSN Justin ‘Bluie’ 2nd Degree, BSBN’s Ashton and Stephanie 3rd Degree and our new SBN Sherri 4th Degree, also with the promotions, both BSBN’s were recognised as Chief Instructors. This was truly a record breaking visit for rank testing and instructor promotions, after a 3.5 year break it was a good way to get Hapkido in the USA back on track.

Congratulations Team USA


Hell Week Survivors

Time to hit the road, for the drive to Minneapolis for the celebratory Brazilian feast at Fogo’s with Master Dave and KJN Corey, before grabbing my hotel near the airport for the short night. Up at 4am to catch the first of 4 flights home, first up Minneapolis to Dallas, then onto Los Angeles. I broke up the trip briefly to catch up with Master Ali for lunch before a quick return to the airport for the long haul home via New Zealand. The Road Warrior returns.

Minneapolis – Dallas – Los Angeles – Auckland – Sydney